Estudio Galera received a brief from their clients to design a home that would infringe as little as possible on the natural landscape within their property. The site had a small pine grove at the front and a steep incline leading to the back. Located in Costa Esmeralda within Costa County, Buenas Aires, Argentina, KVS House would be the family’s vacation home where they could enjoy open air activities and Estudio Galera designed the home to be a 2 storey volume sitting on top of a half buried stone plinth. By creating only a footprint in the land of the plinth which amounted to less then 12%, the architects where able to include a pool and green dune to the landscape and still keep most of the surrounding landscape pristine.
The 2-storey volumes are extended to the maximum allowable setbacks and by so doing a semi-covered carport was created under the social zone next to the main entrance.
With the stone plinth partially buried , the approaching driveway is also below grade and stone walls on either side keep the newly created dune from spilling into it.
To keep the visual of the driveway tied to the landscape, the architects chose to use linear concrete pavers installed across the width with a gap between that has been grouted with grass. A secondary row of pavers denotes the pedestrian approach and small vertical sections of concrete contain the night-lights.
The grassy dune rises at the back of the home to meet up with a stone veneered wall and behind that wall is the pool and surrounding deck. Extending out from the home near the end of the pool is a wood arbour that shades the large outdoor kitchen and dining area beneath.
The pool and outdoor kitchen are in a completely private location surrounded on two sides by Acacia trees and on the third by the stonewall.
The cool blues of the pool’s mosaic interior offer a cool contrast to the stone wall and the naturally weathered wood decking.
The outdoor kitchen features an outdoor grill as well as a pizza oven and located behind it, hidden from view is a machines room and washroom. This double wide volume creates a buffer from the prevailing southern winds while the wood pergola above provides protection from the hot summer’s sun.
The outdoor machines room and washroom are accessed by a walkway that wraps around the double wide volume and a wood screen has been positioned to provide privacy for the two rooms.
The various outdoor zones located at the back of KVS House appear to be only accessible from the home’s interior but a walk around the stone wall arrives at a flight of concrete stairs that connects up with the main entrance and the carport.
Wood beams embedded in the grassy dune support the stairs and by so doing this section of grass takes on a tiered aesthetic with the bottom two tiers filled with gravel rather then grass. At the bottom of the stairs just to the left, a doorway leads to a bedroom, bathroom, laundry and playroom. The playroom walls are connected to the main entrance and the walls don’t reach the ceiling, allowing natural light to spill from the entry zone to the playroom.
The main entrance, although partially buried, is filled with light thanks to the large expanses of glazings that wrap the foyer. All the glazings within the home are made of aluminum with a double glazed air chamber.
The entry stairs arrive in the social zone right next to the dining room before continuing up to the 2nd storey where the private zones are located. Here, as with the rest of the home, concrete ceilings appear to be supported by the walls of glass that flank both sides of the volume. In fact a one metre high wall of concrete is the only visible support in the living room floor. The living room is next to the dining room, separating only by the home’s fireplace. Also next to the dining room – on the other side – is the kitchen, which opens up to the outdoor, cooking and dining zones.
The fireplace creates a natural division between the dining and living areas without blocking off too much of the view. The architects purposely did not create a solid facing on the fireplace, allowing the flu to be exposed and the fireproof box to be a conscientious design feature.
Above the living room a void in the ceiling exposes a wood “ceiling carpet” – one of the only places wood is featured.
The 2nd storey contains three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The views of the Acacia forest beyond the pool from the upstairs patio are stunning
The various levels of the home where created with concrete walls, slabs and four longitudinal beams. All supported on the stone plinth beneath them.
The Argentine coast is a harsh climate and the concrete walls have therefore been poured while leaving a high density expanded polystyrene core. The pouring was done all at once with the expanded polystyrene sheets within them, keeping them in place and adding to the structure.
Photography by Diego Medinarel